The personal and the political recollected with honesty and passion. (b&w photos throughout)

SLEEPING WITH CATS

A MEMOIR

From poet and novelist Piercy (Three Women, 1999, etc.), a beguilingly frank account of a fully engaged life, shared with cats.

Detailing the changes that have roiled society since the Depression, as well as her relationships with family, friends, and lovers, Piercy provides a vivid, if unanalyzed, historical and personal record of the late-20th century. Paralleling her own story are those of the cats she has known through her life: sweet-natured Fluffy, vindictively poisoned in her adolescence; difficult but beautiful Jim Beam; and her four current cats, two Korats and two tabbies. Like all cat lovers, Piercy celebrates the animals’ intelligence, loyalty, and sensitivity as she interweaves their destinies with hers. She begins with her early years in a tough Detroit neighborhood. Only child Piercy was alienated from both her Jewish mother and her gentile father while growing up, though she later became closer to her elderly mother. Young Marge belonged to a gang, carried a knife, and had numerous sexual relationships. Her parents didn’t want her to go to college, but with scholarships and money she earned working, she went off in the late 1950s to the University of Michigan. There, she won writing prizes and met her first husband, but was soon divorced. She subsequently lived in San Francisco, Boston, and New York, acquired a second husband, and, as the Vietnam War heated up, threw herself into antiwar protests. She was a prominent member of the SDS, injuring her back in encounters with the police, but after becoming increasingly soured by the New Left’s attitude toward women, she joined the burgeoning feminist movement and lived in an open marriage. Times changed: finding politics too demanding, Piercy moved to Cape Cod, where she still lives with her third husband—and the cats. Recognizing writing as “the real core” of her life, she now puts it first.

The personal and the political recollected with honesty and passion. (b&w photos throughout)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-621115-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

more